Juggling school, work: ‘Living is expensive’


Rob Le Cates

Renee Heaslip, a senior biological sciences major, poses for a picture outside of the Life Science Building Friday afternoon.

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez, Campus Reporter

To pay tuition, to buy groceries, to gain experience—there are many reasons why college students may need to work while pursuing their education.  

For college students, work can be an added stress on top of everything else that can be a part of a student’s day-to-day life: Attending classes, spending time with friends, studying, participating in student organizations, finding time to eat and making sure you are getting enough sleep.  

For some college students, work can be a necessary evil.  

Nyla Douglas, a senior political science major, works for CTF Illinois, an organization that helps individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. 

She said she is working to take care of living expenses, but also to take care of her daughter.  

“Last year, I took a year off school because I had my daughter, so now she’s a year old,” Douglas said. “I have to take care of her, and also paying bills like my car note and stuff and for my apartment, so yes, it’s a necessity. My family supports me, so I could depend on them, but I’m more the type, I want to be able to do it myself.” 

Renee Heaslip, a senior biology major, works at the Home Depot in Mattoon. 

Heaslip said that they work during the school year in order to take care of their living expenses. 

“I’m currently going to school solely on student loans, and I’m taking care of all my bills, my expenses, so I do need this job just to help me get by,” Heaslip said.  

Isabella Guidry, a sophomore history education major, works at the Office of the Registrar at Eastern—a job of phone answering and paperwork filing.  

Guidry said that last school year, she had two different jobs. Though she said it can be difficult to manage working two jobs and taking classes, she is currently looking for a second job.  

“It is definitely a necessity,” Guidry said. “Right now, I’m looking for a second job. School is expensive. Loans are expensive. Living is expensive.”  

Juggling the responsibilities of work and school while simultaneously trying to enjoy one’s time in college can be difficult.  

Guidry said that trying to set time aside for assignments while simultaneously dealing with the mental and physical exhaustion of work can be stressful.  

“I’ve definitely experienced a little bit more anxiety than I did in high school, and that’s just something that I’ve had to learn to cope with,” Guidry said. “I’m still learning to cope with that.” 

Heaslip said that having to go to work and class affects how much free time they have in their day-to-day life.  

“I’d say I have very little free time,” Heaslip said. “If I’m not at work, I’m doing my classwork. If I’m not in class, I’m at work.” 

Some college students welcome the busyness of juggling work and school.  

Douglas said that working and going to school help keep her on a schedule and from wasting time on unnecessary things.  

“I don’t really try to do too much outside of [work and school] that’s gonna mess up my flow because that’s what I’m supposed to be doing,” she said. 

Ashton Fish, a junior business major, works at the Home Depot in Mattoon, where he provides assistance to both customers and cashiers. 

Fish said that though it can be hard working and going to school, he likes that it keeps him busy.  

“It keeps me going; It keeps me busy,” Fish said. “Sometimes a little too busy. I don’t have enough time to do some schoolwork, but I make time in the morning the day after.”  

Nicole Smith, a sophomore human resources major, works in the human resources department at Eastern. She said that working fits well in her day-to-day life.  

“I feel like it kind of fits into my routine because I’m used to working, and it feels nice getting a little bit of money at the end of the week,” Smith said.  

Though balancing work and school can be challenging, college students try to find ways to make managing that balance easier.  

Heaslip said that getting help from their peers and having a support system has helped them manage the stress that comes from work and school.  

“People will help me if I fall behind in class, because of my inability to study or anything,” Heaslip said. “And my professors, of course. They’ve been really understanding about everything going on, so having their guidance really helped me.” 

Douglas said that her motivation to continue going to school and work is her daughter.  

“Sometimes, I may be too tired; it may be hard for me to wake up and go to class and stuff like that,” she said. “But like I said, I have a daughter, so usually that just motivates me. And I feel like, ‘Okay, let me get up, let me do what I have to do, and get it done.’” 

Douglas also said that when things get stressful or impact her mental health, using on-campus resources has helped her. 

“Always reach out for help, because there’s a lot of resources here on campus, so you might as well use them because you also are paying for them,” she said.  

For Smith, planning ahead is important.  

“Plan out in advance as much as you can, so you aren’t as surprised by anything that comes up,” Smith said.  

Guidry said that setting time aside to learn things that interest you or do things that make you happy is important.  

“Some people I know really like to color,” she said. “Some people love to watch movies, TV shows. Even just taking a nap in the middle of the day helps.”


Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].